Liquid Inclusion: The Dynamics of Inclusion Under Datafication and Surveillance

42 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2023

See all articles by Shyam Krishna

Shyam Krishna

The Alan Turing Institute; DERI - Queen Mary University of London

Date Written: March 25, 2023


This paper uses a lens of ‘liquid surveillance’ to conceptualise the concomitant roles of digital platforms in enacting surveillance and enabling inclusion for those at the margins of society. Within platform ecosystems, a ‘liquid inclusion’ is exposed to be dictated by episodic tasks of self-surveillance rather than being an absolute positive benefit of participating in the digital economy. The paper traces the experiences of informal workers in south India who enter the digital economy under the surveillance of both Aadhaar, India’s national digital identity and the datafication of labour enacted by digital ‘gig-work’ platforms. Methods used include ethnographic interviewing and auto-ethnography of the author’s own use of digital platform ecosystems working as a food delivery gig-worker. The findings in this paper point to a profound reframing by digital platforms of inclusion sought by marginalised users through legal and online identities, financial inclusion and formalisation of welfare and labour.

Keywords: digital identity, inclusion, digital economy, gig work, gig economy, surveillance, labour

Suggested Citation

Krishna, Shyam, Liquid Inclusion: The Dynamics of Inclusion Under Datafication and Surveillance (March 25, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Shyam Krishna (Contact Author)

The Alan Turing Institute ( email )

British Library, 96 Euston Road
96 Euston Road
London, NW12DB
United Kingdom

DERI - Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS

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